Hantavirus: Cleaning Up Rodent-Infested Areas

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Hantavirus: Cleaning Up Rodent-Infested Areas

Topic Overview

Use extreme caution when cleaning rodent-infested areas. Take the following precautions to avoid becoming infected with hantavirus.

  • Wear rubber or plastic gloves at all times while cleaning.
  • Before you start cleaning, open all doors and windows for at least 30 minutes. Stay out of the area until the 30 minutes is up.
  • Do not stir up dust by sweeping up or vacuuming up droppings, urine, or nesting materials. Instead, wet all areas to be cleaned with a solution of 240 mL (1 cup) to 360 mL (1.5 cups) of bleach in 4 L (1 gal) of water. After everything is wet, wipe the area with a wet towel, and then mop with a disinfectant solution.

If you need to remove any dead rodents, take the following precautions:1

  • Spray dead rodents, their nests, and droppings with a household disinfectant, such as Lysol, and place them in plastic bags. Seal each bag, then place it in a second plastic bag and seal.
  • Dispose of the bagged material by burying it or burning it. If this is not possible, call your local health unit for other appropriate ways of disposing of the rodents.

When you have finished cleaning and disposing of the rodents and other contaminated materials:

  • Wash your gloves in disinfectant solution or soap and water before you take them off.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after you take off the gloves.

If you have an area that is heavily infested with rodents, call a professional exterminator to remove them. You also can contact your local health unit for help.

References

Citations

  1. National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2005). General information for general interest readers, students, and others. All About Hantavirus. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps/noframes/printgenlsection.htm.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised May 4, 2010

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